A programmer analyst typically performs the job functions of both a programmer and a systems analyst. This key individual creates and improves computer systems and software programs that are used in industry, commerce, government, and education.
Programmer analysts evaluate the company’s business needs, design, and develop systems and software, update and debug applications and systems, and write computer programs. They design, develop, and code applications that are customized for their organization’s requirements.
Programmer analysts have expertise in software programming, maintaining applications, modifying and debugging programs, and systems analysis and design. They are usually highly-skilled programmers capable of writing complete and complex programs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment opportunities for systems analysts in the United States to grow by 7 percent over the period 2020 to 2030.
A programmer analyst could be required to perform a variety of functions in systems analysis, design, and development, software programming, and application development, customization, and maintenance. Depending on the sector and organization, a programmer analyst’s responsibilities might include any or all of the following:
Consulting with business managers to understand the role of IT systems in the company’s business operations
Documenting user requirements and functionality of systems and software
Designing and developing systems to address the organization’s requirements by identifying appropriate hardware and software, and configuring the same
Supervising installation and configuration of new IT infrastructure in order to ensure that systems are tailored for the company’s needs
Analysing existing systems and upgrading the same in line with user and business needs
Researching and evaluating new technologies in order to determine whether implementing the same would enhance efficiency of business operations and further the organization’s goals
Performing an analysis of costs and benefits for management to ascertain whether investments in new technologies and software would be cost-effective
Documenting existing systems and programs, system, software, and application modifications, and integrations
Preparing and updating user documentation
Designing, developing, and maintaining business applications and databases
Modifying software purchased from vendors to suit the organization’s requirements
Writing and documenting software programs
Executing tests in order to verify whether systems and programs are functioning in line with specifications
Testing and approving third-party software
Preparing user manuals and training end users of systems and applications
Troubleshooting systems and software issues
Working with others in the IT team to help them understand the role of IT systems in fulfilling the business needs and goals of the organization, and how they can contribute to optimizing efficiency of computer systems
Keeping pace with changes
Rapid technological advances give rise to new technologies, languages, and tools all the time. Programmer analysts must maintain the practice of continual learning in order to keep abreast of new developments and stay competitive.
Programmer analysts need to update their knowledge of emerging technologies in order to determine whether adopting the same would improve efficiency of business operations. They should also ensure that they develop proficiency in new programming and scripting languages that are applicable in their area of work.
Training and employment background
Most employers require programmer analysts to have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, engineering, information technology, or other relevant subjects. Many programmer analysts have several years of experience in programming. It’s necessary to have advanced programming and scripting language skills.
Relevant languages include Java/Java EE, C, C++, C#, .NET, Java Script, to name some. Widely-used scripting languages include Perl, Python, SQL, XML, and Ruby. Specific languages that a programmer analyst needs to know depends on the field of work. Depending on the role, experience working with SQL Server, ASP.NET, SSQS, and HTML might be required.
Programmer analysts also need other skills:
Solid problem-solving skills are essential because programmer analysts are responsible for assessing problems and devising the best possible solution. Successful analysts have sharp critical thinking skills.
They need to have good communication skills because they interact with management, end users, and the IT department. Hence, it’s important that they are able to describe complex technical details in accessible language to all stakeholders.
It’s important to have solid analytical skills because programmer analysts need to examine and figure out a lot of complex data from different sources and determine the most suitable processes to execute in order to complete a project in the most efficient way. When updating systems and software, they need to evaluate the outcome of changes.
Programmer analysts must also have great attention to detail in order to avoid making mistakes and be able to keep track of multiple tests and processes at the same time.
Successful analysts typically have a creative bent. Devising innovative solutions to system and software issues is a key responsibility of a programmer analyst. In order to come up with novel and effective solutions one needs to adopt an original and unfettered approach to problem solving.
Normally, employers don’t require programmer analysts to have earned certifications if they hold a bachelor’s degree in computer science or other related field, have solid programming experience, and advanced knowledge of relevant programming and scripting languages. Applicants need to demonstrate that they can design and develop systems and business applications, code software, and troubleshoot system and software problems.
However, some recruiters might take specific certifications into account when assessing an applicant’s suitability for a particular role. Certifications that might add value to your resume include:
This widely-recognized vendor-neutral credential from CompTIA validates problem solving skills. CompTIA A+ is valued by employers because the performance-based A+ exams test a candidate’s ability to execute IT support functions.
AWS Certified Developer Associate
The AWS Certified Developer certification demonstrates the ability to write and install cloud-based applications. This credential may be worth considering for programmer analysts who wish to work on the AWS platform.
Programming language certifications include:
Oracle Certified Associate Java Programmer
C Programming Language Certified Associate (CLA)
C++ Certified Associate Programmer (CPA)
Certified Associate in Python Programming (PCAP)
Also, programmer analysts aspiring to work in a particular industry, such as finance or healthcare, might need to demonstrate an understanding of the business. It is important to establish that they can consult with business managers in order to achieve clarity on the role of IT systems in streamlining business processes and enabling the organization to improve efficiency of business operations and gain competitive advantage.
As discussed earlier, regular study is an important part of a programmer analyst’s career development. For those who find it difficult to sustain a self-directed learning schedule, relevant certifications might be a good way of ensuring one learns new languages, technologies, and tools regularly.